It was too hot to eat properly. All I wanted was to nibble, to graze, to drink ice cold rose with my tongue hanging out, a cold compress to hand. 

But I had a friend to meet. She wanted to go somewhere nice near Bicester. But where?

The Muddy Duck in the beautiful village of Hethe it was then, the passion project of local residents Gemma and Nigel Harris.

In the end the sun was so relentless that the camels were fainting in the picturesque garden and our suncream began bubbling. Even Lawrence of Arabia would struggle with these temperatures.

So we retreated inside, to breath and mop and fan. 

You can choose to eat in the more casual main bar which was packed with locals and visitors alike eating, chatting, drinking and working – snatching a quick lunch.

The more formal dining room, past the open plan kitchen, was less populated. The relief, I can’t tell you, of finding somewhere cooler to sit down.

I had to check my receipt for what came afterwards, because honestly, I didn’t care. I’m a one man kinda girl, and my head had swivelled.

Which might account for our major over-ordering experience. We took sharing plates to mean, ‘order everything because it doesn’t really count.’ And really took it to heart.

The fatal error however, was forgetting the wonderful home-made bread and whipped butter one is presented with at The Muddy Duck, which we devoured with an intensity that frightened us both.

Hence, we were then presented with the grilled watermelon salad with mint pesto and crispy halloumi (£7), which was summery heaven – juicy, sweet, crispy, and then the mixed mushrooms on toast with cream, wine, herbs and brandy (£9), because, well, because we couldn’t resist. Literally.

Delicious, and wonderfully generous, the sauce dripping down and make the toast soft and unctuous.

We also dabbled in the tempura courgette with smoked aioli, and my oh my, it was like sitting on  beach cafe in Greece (without the beach bit).

Unashamed deep-fried circles of veg with a garlicky mayonniase. The simple pleasures eh?

But then, drum roll, the smoked haddock kedgeree Scotch egg arrived with a curry mayo £8, and everything else faded into oblivion.

I had to check my receipt for what came afterwards, because honestly, I didn’t care. I’m a one man kinda girl, and my head had swivelled.

Ingenious, beautifully executed, just the right balance between the fish, the rice, the egg, the spices and cooked just right. Solid gone.

In case you’re interested, ‘she’ had the slow cooked beef shin on a toasted English muffin with a horseradish creme fraiche and seemed equally as enamoured. And we both chowed down on the al dente broccoli, chilli and garlic side dish.

The only fly in the ointment actually was the service. It wasn’t just bad, it was entirely absent. Our waiter forget the menus, plates, coffee… and then our dessert took so long we cancelled it and left. He didn’t seem overly concerned either.

Which was a shame because I tell you something, those kilted warriors were onto something, and if you’re passing, it’s worth popping into The Muddy Duck for their twist on the kedgeree Scotch eggs alone.

THE MUDDY DUCK   MAIN ST . HETHE . OX27 8ES
01869 278099. themuddyduckpub.co.uk/hethe/

https://goo.gl/maps/zn2AiEwge71Cd9Hv6

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